A few days ago President Obama came to Wisconsin to talk about education, and mentioned that our state was currently unable to access new federal money per its unwillingness to tie student test scores to teacher performance. Any number of editorials and other commentaries have suggested our state testing system needs an overhaul—that students who rate as ‘proficient’ by these standards would not be so in other states—and many schools considered adequate here would be deemed just the opposite elsewhere. While much of the concern disproportionately affects children of color and those in poverty, there is now research to suggest that even rich white students do not reach their full potential in our educational system.
This is not intended to be a blanket indictment of education in our state, or throughout the country, but smoke often suggests fire so we might need to pay more attention. When your child brings home a report card, what does it really mean? If he/she moves from one grade level to the next on schedule, so what? Upon graduation from high school are they ‘ready’ to succeed in today’s world?
The purpose of this blog is to encourage parents, and other stakeholders, to ask questions and get more involved with how we are collectively preparing all of our young people for the future. Go to a School Board meeting and ask someone to explain how that District is improving student achievement and measuring results. During parent-teacher conferences ask what the current set of classroom experiences does for your child when it comes to getting ready for post-secondary opportunities and/or self-sustaining employment. Be well read on these topics. Last, and certainly not least, ask your child what he/she is ‘learning’ in school…their response may be enlightening.
Heightened awareness and constructive challenge are healthy—your children will appreciate the effort—together more may be achieved.